Part-time students, full-time fathers

Katie Fenton, Online Reporter

Augustine Canales


fathers of pierce 1For student and father Augustine Canales, balancing school with his personal life turned out to be easier than he anticipated.

“I thought it was going to be more stressful than it is, but come to find out it actually fits very well, especially with having kids,” Canales said. “People think if you have kids that it’s difficult to go to school. I find it to be the complete opposite. It’s easier going to school at the same time as your kids because the interests are so similar. You’re both working toward a higher education.”

Canales lives with his wife, Mindy Canales, and their three children: 16-year-old Zant, 11-year-old Mariana and 9-year-old Santiago. Before attending Pierce, both Augustine and Mindy Canales worked full time. But then Augustine Canales was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and had to stop working.

“I didn’t realize how much time I was spending away from my kids until I got MS,”  Canales said. “Everybody looked at it as this huge negative that I wasn’t able to work because I’m 100 percent disabled now, but to me I see it as an opportunity to spend more time with my kids that a lot of parents miss out on.”

When Canales worked, he’d come home exhausted, he said. With his school schedule, he’s able to enjoy time with his kids.

“I’m there in the morning and afternoon,” Canales said. “I put them on the bus, I get them off the bus and I’m with them all weekend. I get to see my kids and interact with them because I’m sick. Overall that’s the best part, all the memories that I make. There’s a lot more of them than before.”

When he’s not doing homework,  Canales enjoys spending time outside at Clarks Creek, a park in downtown Puyallup, with his family.

“We do a lot outside of our house,” Canales said. “We do a lot of swimming and kayaking in the creek, (and) fishing on the creek. We do a lot of campfires. This weekend, I know (my kids) will be out every day with a fire in the backyard. That’s our regular schedule, being outside.”

Canales said his favorite part about being a father is seeing how his actions influence others and their perspective on life.

But as a dad of a teenager, Canales knows that kids don’t always listen and said this is one of the most difficult aspects about being a father.

“I’m just learning this part because I have a 16-year-old,” Canales said. “Your kids get old enough to try stuff on their own and not learn from your examples even though you know what’s right and wrong, they have to figure it out themselves. That’s frustrating at times.”

Despite his minor frustration, Canales loves his kids and their unique qualities. For his son Zant, it’s his shyness. Eleven-year-old Mariana is the complete opposite and can talk to anyone, while Santiago is willing to try anything at least once. Canales hopes his children go on to graduate from college and do something they love.

“That’s the biggest thing for me, getting an education,” Canales said. “And if they don’t, finding something that they love. As you get older, no matter if you choose not to get an education, go into a career as long as you love it and enjoy it.”


Nick Young


Fathers of Pierce 2Student Nick Young lives with his wife, Becca Young, and their children Josephine, 3, and 18-month-old Asa. His step-daughter Maybellene, 19, attends Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

Young is finishing his first quarter at Pierce after a 12-year gap from school. He plans to earn his associate degree in social sciences and is considering transferring to CWU.

“If I time it just right, I might be able to graduate with my daughter, which we both think would be pretty awesome,” Young said.

To balance school and his personal life, Young tries to complete his schoolwork on his own time.

“I really try to utilize any time I have to myself for studying,” Young said. “I do a lot of homework in my car on my breaks at work. I get up early before my kids in the morning on my weekends, when my kids take naps, while my wife is at work and when my kids go to bed. I try to keep my studying as my problem. I try to make sure that it affects my time with my family as little as possible, and so far it’s worked pretty well.”

While the balance works, Young said his and his wife’s conflicting schedules can be a problem.

“It gets kind of crazy sometimes, but my wife and I work well together,”  Young said. “When I proposed to her, I actually asked her to be my partner in crime and she definitely fits that role. The hardest thing overall is being away, but if going to school is going to provide a better life for my kids and teach them by example the importance of an education and to not fear the learning process, then it’s my responsibility to do so.”

Young’s favorite part about being a father is watching his kids be happy and grow.

“My kids are really goofy and it’s refreshing to watch the wonder in their eyes about different things and watch them learn and not be so cynical and ungrateful like the rest of the world,” Young said. “We were recently at Northwest Trek and my daughter asked to snuggle with a grizzly bear. Only innocent minds think that way.”

Watching his kids grow is also the hardest part about being a dad for  Young.

“You ask yourself ‘Why the hell did they just do that?’” Young said. “But when you later see them change and approach things differently you know that they are learning from the experiences and building on that recognition generally helps you with the next set of growing pains. We often use the same reminder with different contexts for our kids of ‘hey, you aren’t the only person in the world!’ and ‘hey, it’s going to be fine – you aren’t the only person in the world that feels that way.’”

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Part-time students, full-time fathers

by Katie Fenton time to read: 4 min